Clicking Well at Both Ends of the Court, PDS Boys’ Hoops Advances to Prep B Final
LAYING DOWN THE LAW: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Ethan Garita goes up for a shot in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, junior forward Garita scored 17 points to help second-seeded PDS defeat third-seeded Wardlaw-Hartridge 55-39 in the state Prep B semifinals. The Panthers, who improved to 12-10 with the win, will play at top-seeded Doane Academy in February 23 in the Prep B title game. In addition, PDS will be competing in the Mercer County Tournament where it is seeded eighth and hosts ninth-seeded Lawrence High in an opening round contest on February 19. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
For the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team, its 44-42 loss to Montgomery last week was a wake-up call as it girded for playing in the state Prep B semis on Friday.
“It was a signal to our guys that with all the close games we have had this year, anything can happen so you have to be present,” said PDS head coach Doug Davis.
“You have to do the right thing from the beginning to the end because you never want to put yourself in a position where a good team can even have a chance. Montgomery had a chance and they took advantage of that.”
Heeding that signal, second-seeded Panthers defeated third-seeded Wardlaw Hartridge 55-39 in the Prep B semis last Saturday.
“Our guys played well on the defensive end, guarding quick guards,” said Davis, whose team improved to 12-10 with the win and will play at top-seeded Doane Academy in February 23 in the Prep B title game.
“In the Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.) game (a 70-63 loss on February 6), we had to deal with a very quick guard, a football player, who was really fast and beating us. Our guys tried to over pressure and that guy was just blowing by. We knew that if we gave Wardlaw an opportunity to get to the basket and be creative in the paint, they would absolutely do it so we had to be playing good defense.”
Junior transfer Ethan Garita had a good offensive day for the Panthers in the win, tallying 17 points.
“He is taking it personally, having lost in the county finals last year at Trenton,” said Davis. “He wants to come out and do something special this year.”
The Panthers came out with a balanced attack against Wardlaw as Jaylin Champion-Adams and Lucas Green each scored 11 points and Dameon Samuels chipped in eight.
“Everybody really got into it, we have been telling the guys the whole time that we have scorers,” said Davis.
“We have guys who can score 15 points on any given day. When we are hitting on the same time, we are really tough to beat. That combined with our defensive effort made it a really good win.”
After having lost to Pennington in the Prep B semis last year, it was a really good feeling for PDS to make the final.
“Our guys definitely enjoyed that win,” added Davis. “Now they have to recalibrate and get right back at it.”
The Panthers can enjoy some more postseason success as they are also competing in the Mercer County Tournament where they are seeded eighth and host ninth-seeded Lawrence High in an opening round contest on February 19.
“It is one step at at time, it would be awesome to get back to the Cure Insurance Arena for Ethan’s sake,” said Davis, referring to the site of the county final.
“There are some teams on our side of the bracket that will be tough. I feel like we can play with anybody and we have proved that. It is just about pulling through on the day.”